Understanding TCP/IP Networking

The term “TCP/IP” is shorthand for a large collection of protocols and services that are used for internetworking computer systems. In any given implementation, TCP/IP encompasses operating system components, user and administrative commands and utilities, configuration files, and device drivers, as well as the kernel and library support upon which they all depend. Many of the basic TCP/IP networking concepts are not operating system-specific, so we’ll begin this chapter by considering TCP/IP networking in a general way.

Figure 5-1 depicts an example TCP/IP network including several kinds of network connections. Assuming that these computers are in reasonably close physical proximity to one another, this network would be classed as a local area network (LAN).[1] In contrast, a wide area network (WAN) consists of multiple LANs, often widely separated geographically (see Figure 5-5, later in this chapter). Different physical network types are also characteristic of the LAN/WAN distinction (e.g., Ethernet versus frame relay).

Each computer system on the network is known as a host [2] and is identified by both a name and an IP address (more on these later). Most of the hosts in this example have a permanent name and IP address. However, two of them, italy and chile, have their IP address dynamically assigned when they first connect to the network (typically, at boot time), using the DHCP facility (indicated by the highlighted final element in the IP ...

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